Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences
Earth and Ocean Sciences research investigates our unique planet: its materials and structure, its origin and evolution, and its on-going physical, biological and chemical processes. Research programmes encompass coastal oceanography, our soil, water, mineral and energy resources as well as volcanology, supported by the primary research interests of staff. Our research projects are supported by multi-million dollar investments from national and local government, many of which have significant iwi and other community involvement.
Antarctic research is co-ordinated through Antarctica New Zealand. All Antarctic expeditions form part of the official New Zealand Antarctic programme. Each expedition produces an immediate science report, which is distributed by Antarctica New Zealand. Much of our current Antarctic research is undertaken in collaboration with Landcare Research or relates to impacts of human activities on the Antarctic environment.
Studies of how climates and environments have changed are dictated by time scale: very long-term change is measured in millions of years, long-term change in hundreds or tens of millennia, short-term change in millennia, and very short-term change in centuries or decades. Studies of environmental change over the last 2.5 million years are usually referred to as Quaternary science. Documentation and analysis of modern environments and processes typically span a few years or decades.
Research at Waikato University and especially within the Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences covers all these timescales and is wide-ranging, dealing with both marine and terrestrial deposits of many different kinds. Marine studies are based on the analysis of sediments in deep-sea cores, and terrestrial studies include research on long sedimentary sequences, loess deposits, pyroclastic and volcanic deposits including tephrochronology, lake and peat deposits, cave deposits, glacial materials, and paleosols.
Marine and freshwater resources and ecosystems are now recognised as ranking among the world's most valuable assets. Managing these resources wisely is a key challenge in the 21st century. New Zealand has jurisdiction over a maritime area that is 24 times the size of its land mass, yet relatively little is understood about this area's resources and capacity.
The Coastal Marine Group (CMG) is a specialist niche operator in shallow water mapping and surveying, meeting the needs of researchers, managers,and developers of New Zealand’s marine and water resources. The group contains a mix of established and emerging researchers supported by outstanding technical personnel, and offers contract research, collaborative research, consultancy, survey work, monitoring programmes, data analysis and interpretation and shallow water mapping.
Coastal cliff erosions - mechanisms, erosion rates, hazard assessment; volcanic edifice stability -geotechnical characterisation and stability analysis; geotechnical properties of soft (weak, weathered, altered) rocks; properties of volcanic soils - sensitive rhyolitic soils, weathered tephras, alluvial sediments; soil erosion from earthworks - mechanisms, measurements, prediction
- Academic staff researching in this area:
- Vicki Moon
Surface and ground water resources, hydropower optimisation, ecohydrology and evaporation.
This research grouping covers a wide range of disciplines including soil science, geomechanics, hydrology, and the analysis and management of natural hazards.
The Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory is a national radiocarbon facility undertaking both Standard Radiometric Dating and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Dating (AMS). We are a part of the Faculty of Science & Engineering at the University of Waikato.
For more than 30 years we have been providing radiocarbon assays for scientists and researchers from around the world and have been at the forefront of ground-breaking research into the technique and its application.
The Waikato laboratory has a commitment to customer service, innovation, and continual improvement.
The sedimentary geology group is working in petroleum exploration with the hydrocarbon exploration industry in New Zealand, both in the productive Taranaki Basin and in frontier basins to make commercial discoveries. Staff are also researching North Island geology; siliclastic sedimentology; carbonate sedimentology; sequence stratigaphy; paleoenvironmental analysis.
The Faculty's research in the soil sciences comprises a wide range of subdisciplines, such as:
- Pedology and paleopedology
- Soils and environmental protection
- Soils and waste management, Antarctic soils and environment
- Soil water and microclimates and functioning of peat and organic soils
Volcanological research has focused on physical volcanology, magmatic processes, petrology and geochemistry of volcanic rocks, volcanic hazards and risk mitigation, tephrochronology and radiometric dating.
Volcanological studies have been particularly aimed at increasing our knowledge and understanding of volcanism in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, and late Miocene-Pliocene Coromandel Volcanic Zone and other Pliocene-Quaternary volcanic rocks of the northern North Island.
- Academic staff researching in this area:
- Roger Briggs
Coastal Marine Group
The Coastal Marine Group (CMG) is a multidisciplinary group of researchers from across the University with core members based in the Department of Earth & Ocean Sciences, and with the focus of their research and teaching at least partly on the coastal zone and adjacent coastal shallow waters.
The goal of the Energy Research Centre is improved competitiveness for NZ industry through research aimed at achieving increased energy efficiency and conservation. The Centre has two divisions: The Industrial Energy Efficiency Division and the Sedimentary and Petroleum Geology Division. Please navigate to these web sites to know more about our work or contact our administrator
The Department has collaborated with a number of external institutions in advancing research both nationally and internationally. Some of these include: